Michael O’Neill names Northern Ireland squad for Nations League
Tom Flanagan replaces Gareth McAuley for matches against Austrian and Bosnia & Herzogovina
Tom Flanagan has been named in Michael O’Neill’s squad for the forthcoming games against Austria and Bosnia & Herzogovina. Photograph: William Cherry/Inpho
Sunderland defender Tom Flanagan has been recalled to Northern Ireland’s senior squad for their Uefa Nations League double-header.
Flanagan, 26, replaces Rangers’ Gareth McAuley in Michael O’Neill’s squad for the forthcoming games against Austria and Bosnia & Herzogovina.
Centre-half Flanagan has not featured for Northern Ireland since the World Cup play-offs against Switzerland in November last year.
McAuley is still not match fit after joining Rangers following his release from West Brom at the end of last season.
“Gareth isn’t in the squad because he’s not ready,” O’Neill told a press conference. “Tom Flanagan can hopefully push on and put pressure on those playing.
“It’s in our best interests that Gareth McAuley stays at Rangers. He would be an injury risk and that’s not fair to him or Rangers.”
Sheffield United striker Conor Washington requested to be omitted from the squad due to personal reasons, O’Neill has confirmed.
Washington has been an unused substitute in Sheffield United’s last two matches after joining from QPR in late August.
Fit-again Hearts defender Aaron Hughes is included for the Nations League matches in Vienna on October 12 and Sarajevo three days later after missing out on the September fixtures through injury.
Bolton striker Josh Magennis is also named in the squad after being sidelined for the recent matches against Bosnia and Israel, while Oxford winger Gavin Whyte retains his place.